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The Unleashed Dogs of War

By Donovan, Prisoner of War in America

The United States is in a paroxysm punishment and imprisonment and, having encouraged repressive police methods nationwide, outrages such as the New York City plunger incident and the Texas beatings of Missouri prisoners should not be surprising. The surprise comes with the "shock and dismay," mouthed by the officials who have promulgated these get tough measures. Whatever did they expect? Unleash the dogs of war and they are going to bite.

In the New York City episode, which has now ballooned into $450 million lawsuit, one of New York's Finest -perhaps in a xenophobic rage-sodomized a Haitian national with a toilet plunger. Were this not depraved enough, officer Justin Volpe then allegedly bashed the plunger through the victim's teeth, breaking his jaw and cramming the plunger down his throat. One assumes that his badge was glinting brightly against the dark blue field of his uniform all the while.

Despite the victim's injuries, which included a pierced rectum and a lacerated bladder, Mr. Louisiana was denied medical care for several hours. Although the New York City Commissioner of Police tried to put the usual tag of this being an isolated incident, as a matter of fact the reason for the high dollar amount of the suit is because abuses have become commonplace in the name of crime busting in the Big Apple.

The question needs asking: what is the functional difference between random street crime and methodical police crime? Doubtless, violent crime requires vigorous suppression, but on the other hand, is this country poised on the verge of law enforcement running amok? We believe it is, just ask any Hispanic who has driven through Mississippi lately.

The taped beating of Missouri prisoners raises profound questions which reach beyond the brutality of kicking, beating and siccing dogs on helpless people. The primary question is this: should a country engage in profiteering off its criminalized class? Unsavory historical examples of this kind of opportunism abound and they have left a bitter, long lasting legacy: British deportees to Australia, indentured servitude, endless chain gangs and Asian work prisons making products for state profit. What privatizing does however, removes wards of the state even further from public responsibility. The video tape in question was, for instance, over one year old. It was made as a training film, perhaps for Brutality 101 or How to Reduce the Cost of Alpo. It was shocking alright, with staff and SWAT type law enforcement officers gleefully testing electromagnetic principles on the genitalia of prisoners.

The men from Missouri had repeatedly complained of vicious treatment from unbridled use of the stun gun to scanty food of poor quality. These complaints, muffled by the privatizing entity-in this case a company called Capitol Correctional Resources, Inc., of Jackson, Mississippi-and Texas state bureaucrats, were ignored in turn by Missouri officialdom. They were far away prisoners, out of sight and out of mind. Only the release of this brutal training tape called attention to their plight. How much of this goes on? We are betting that, like the anally fixated New York cop, we are only seeing the tip of a very large, very dark iceberg. What is emerging is the inevitable result of a society that has hyped crime and given police over-broad authority. For those of you who are complacent, remember that handcuffs and toilet plungers have this in common: one size fits all.

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